This is the Ferrari 296 GT3 race car, and it’s here to succeed the 488 GT3 racer in sports car competition. Yes, this means that Ferrari’s mid-engine racer will no longer by powered by a V8. Instead, the 296 GT3 uses a racing version of the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 found in the road-going 296 GTB.
Since the 296 GT3 is exclusively for racing purposes, Ferrari deleted the plug-in hybrid system, meaning that this 296 is gasoline-powered-only. Balance of Performance (BoP) will dictate how much power this 296 is running in competition, but Ferrari quotes 600 horsepower and 524 pound-feet of torque as the baseline figures. That’s a smidgen down from the road car’s engine-only horsepower figure of 654 ponies. The GT3’s engine is also positioned further forward and lower down versus the road car. Ferrari says its goal was to make an engine with maximum performance, but also provide maximum reliability and driveability — this car will compete in 24-hour races, after all. The engine is connected to a bespoke gearbox developed for this car. It’s a six-speed single-clutch Xtrac system that now features electric clutch actuation via the steering wheel as opposed to a foot pedal.
The 296’s design and the new aero work done for the GT3 result in 20% greater downforce than the outgoing 488 GT3 race car. Ferrari says it worked to make the car more drivable even when in the slipstream of other cars. It’s not the prettiest Ferrari racer we’ve ever seen, but it sure doesn’t look like it’ll be lacking for downforce with the massive wings and appendages protruding every which way from it. If the 296 GT3 is damaged mid-race, Ferrari promises easier replacement of the front and rear aprons to get back on the track quicker.
Ferrari designed a new chassis using learnings from the 488 GT3. It’s made of aluminum, and Ferrari says its lightness will allow for better and more efficient ballast placement for BoP restrictions. The wheelbase is longer than the road-going 296, and the suspension is changed from the 488 GT3 to offer a wider range of adjustment for different styles of driver and different tracks. A new (and larger) braking system is integrated, and shrouding those brakes is a new wheel from Rotiform that was made specifically for the 296 GT3.
The interior is totally new versus the 488 GT3. Drivers will have an easier time getting comfortable with adjustable pedals and an adjustable steering wheel. Most controls have moved to an F1-style steering wheel. Plus, an air conditioning system combined with improved ventilation should help keep drivers cooler.
Ferrari says it’s already put thousands of miles on test cars to prepare for competition. The 296 GT3’s debut race will be next year’s Daytona 24 Hours.